RVBC

Replace Ls430 Air Suspension With Coil Over Shocks / Struts

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UPDATE on original post (following)

The Megan MR-CDK-LL01 coil over shocks have been installed to replace the air suspension. Total was cost $1605 with taxes at Suncoast Customs (Sarasota Florida). With the softest damper setting and heights adjusted to give the car a slight rake (raised rear 3/4"
and lowered front 3/4") ... I love the look!

The car can be manually lowered approximately 4" with these components and the shocks dampened for a very firm ride. I have the shocks at the softest dampening setting (32) and the ride is wonderfully Lexus-like!

The warning light (no buzzer) for the ride height was eliminated by pulling the air suspension fuse in the panel at the driver foot kick. NO NEED TO CUT ANY WIRES!

The headlight leveling warning light (no buzzer) is on full time. I hope to set the car wheels on 8" concrete blocks (to be able to get under the frame with a creeper) and adjust the rear suspension height sensor to correct the headlight leveling and eliminate the warning light .... and will post when that exercise is complete

----------- ORIGINAL POST (that was read 89 times without an answer) -------------

I
have a leaking passenger side rear air suspension "strut" in my UL with
81,000 miles and want to replace the air suspension. The OEM air bag
components are more than $5K (excluding labor and taxes) and when I was
at a dealership looking to trade up to a LS460, the trade-in value was
pegged at $6K. I would consider replacing the airbag system with OEM
springs and shocks ($2K for the parts) but the Lexus dealership wouldn't
touch it.

So I considered after-market coil-over
struts. It appears as if Megan Racing has what I want (MR-CDK-LL01 ~
$900/4). They have the lowest spring rates I could find (a softer ride)
and maximum adjustment for height (retain stock height to negate having
to adjust height sensors for headlights) and multiple damping settings
(drifting in my dreams).

Does anyone have experience with the MR kits?

I have read a number of posts about Strutmasters which have a better warranty but will cost $400 more.

My research in the forums and on-line points to an number of related issues.

1. Deactivating the air compressor.

** Will removing the fuse solve this without any related consequences?

2. Disabling the dash lights. As far as I can determine, there are two lights.

- One under the fuel gauge when I move the rocker switch to sport

- One in the center display when I change the rocker from norm to high

** Will cutting the violet/red wire to at 7A in the air suspension ECU solve either one or both of these light issues?

** Where is the air suspension ECU located?

3. Is it prudent to "plug" the air lines at each strut after removing the air bags?

Are there any other issues that should be addressed?

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Good to know and I am sure it will help others wanting to replace the air suspension. Thanks for the update! :cheers:

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The HEADLIGHT LEVELING warning light .... As it turns out, the shop removed my height sensors (one at each wheel in the UL), so I cannot adjust the sensors to get the warning light to go out. So (until I get the sensors reinstalled) I have pulled the fuse (located in the box in the passenger side kick panel) for the sensors (#28 in the owner's manual). The warning light is gone but the functionality of the headlight leveling is gone too (for those rare occasions when it might make a difference due loading of passengers and / or luggage).

While I wait for the headlight / height sensors to be re-installed, I manually adjusted the headlights with a 10mm socket wrench. Before the suspension change I had marked the wall in my garage at the center of the beam height. After the change there was a difference of about 4" in the beam height to the wall about 10 feet away. I loosened and set aside the fuse box behind the driver's side headlight and removed the plastic panel behind the passenger side headlight. There is an opening in the plastic housing at the back of the headlight for the socket to fit onto the adjustment nut (the nut is not visible - but the hole is). I turned the nut clockwise until the height came up to the air bag suspension height. It was amazingly simple and easy!

Now the UL has headlights like the "good old days". The motors are not active but the beams are properly aimed and the warning lights are off.

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More good info...thanks for sharing your knowledge/experience.

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Sewell (before they closed their website) sold a kit for this; basically bundling the shocks and struts from the Sport package for those looking to replace the Airshocks. I don't know if they still have it (you have to call now) but I bet they've figured out how to prune the Air suspension system from the car somehow.

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The OEM parts for the air suspension are about $1400 per wheel (taxes included) compared to OEM parts for coil over shocks (standard or sport shocks and springs available) at about $275 per wheel (taxes included).

http://www.lexussouthatlantaparts.com/showAssembly.aspx?ukey_assembly=758013&ukey_make=1082&ukey_model=15670&modelYear=2001&ukey_driveLine=8085&searchString=suspension

I considered keeping the air and just replacing the rear bags but $3,000 for two air bags was hard to digest on a car with a $6K trade-in value. I called Lexus dealers in Naples, Fort Myers and Sarasota and none of the service departments would swap the bags for coils and shocks (for whatever reason). I figured I would be happy with the standard Lexus ride but when the dealerships were not co-operating, I started looking for aftermarket parts and a specialty shop to do the work.

The Megan Kit was $200 less (four corners) than OEM spring and shock parts. The Megan kit (and most other suppliers with product costing more than the Megan kit) offers shock dampening adjustment as well as height adjustment; neither is available with OEM coil over shock systems. The Megan coil-overs have about 4" of height adjustment and 32 settings for dampening.The kit I choose has the softest spring rate of any of the after-market kits I looked at and with shock dampening set at its softest, the ride is very much like the ride in my previous two (non-air) LS400's. Adjusting the shock dampening is easy to do - the dial is on top of the shock and accessing the dial is a 2 minute exercise on the front and 10 minute exercise at the rear. If I want the car to ride like an Infiniti or BMW, it can be done easily.

I really like the look of the lowered car, but my wife doesn't like the idea. I intend to offer the car for private sale when we look for a used LS460 later this year (or next year) and thought the lowered car might be offensive to a prospective buyer. It takes about 30-45 minutes in the shop to adjust the ride height so the next owner can lower the body over the wheels without changing the ride quality (although running the undercarriage into parking lot bumpers might become an issue).

It would be interesting to know whether Sewell (or any other supplier) has proper instructions for de-activating the dash lights (there are some posts in this forum where the after-market supplier has directions to cut wires - which I do not think is necessary).

I have a shop appointment to get the ride height (headlight leveling) sensors re-installed and hopefully will be able to get the headlight leveling working with raked suspension and without the warning lights. I will update my results after that exercise.

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My 1998 LS400 was totaled less than a week ago. Now I'm looking to buy an LS430. I noticed during my test drive, a master warning light, for the headlight leveling. What exactly does this mean? I read your quote. However, I need more clarification. I don't want to buy a car with problems. If so, I may need to rebut the seller's offering price.


The HEADLIGHT LEVELING warning light .... As it turns out, the shop removed my height sensors (one at each wheel in the UL), so I cannot adjust the sensors to get the warning light to go out. So (until I get the sensors reinstalled) I have pulled the fuse (located in the box in the passenger side kick panel) for the sensors (#28 in the owner's manual). The warning light is gone but the functionality of the headlight leveling is gone too (for those rare occasions when it might make a difference due loading of passengers and / or luggage).

While I wait for the headlight / height sensors to be re-installed, I manually adjusted the headlights with a 10mm socket wrench. Before the suspension change I had marked the wall in my garage at the center of the beam height. After the change there was a difference of about 4" in the beam height to the wall about 10 feet away. I loosened and set aside the fuse box behind the driver's side headlight and removed the plastic panel behind the passenger side headlight. There is an opening in the plastic housing at the back of the headlight for the socket to fit onto the adjustment nut (the nut is not visible - but the hole is). I turned the nut clockwise until the height came up to the air bag suspension height. It was amazingly simple and easy!

Now the UL has headlights like the "good old days". The motors are not active but the beams are properly aimed and the warning lights are off.

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